Emotion Regulation of Others and Self

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Martijn, C., Sheeran, P., Wesseldijk, L., Merrick, H., Webb, T. L., Roefs, A., & Jansen, A. (2012). Evaluative conditioning makes slim models less desirable as standards of comparison and increases body satisfaction. Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/a0028592


Objective: The present research tested whether an evaluative conditioning intervention makes thin-ideal models less enviable as standards for appearance-based social comparisons (Study 1), and increases body satisfaction (Study 2).
Design: Female participants were randomly assigned to intervention versus control conditions in both studies (Ns = 66 and 39). Intervention participants learned to associate thin-ideal models with synonyms of “fake” whereas control participants completed an equivalent task that did not involve learning this association.
Main outcome measures: The dependent variable in Study 1 was an implicit measure of idealization of slim models assessed via a modified Implicit Association Test (IAT). Study 2 used a validated, self-report measure of body satisfaction as the outcome variable.
Results: Intervention participants showed significantly less implicit idealization of slim models on the IAT compared to controls (Study 1). In Study 2, participants who undertook the intervention exhibited an increase in body satisfaction scores whereas no such increase was observed for control participants.
Conclusion: The present research indicates that it is possible to overcome the characteristic impact of thin-ideal models on women’s judgments of their bodies. An evaluative conditioning intervention made it less likely that slim models were perceived as targets to be emulated, and enhanced body satisfaction.

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